Thursday: Hili dialogue

July 13, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Thursday, July 13, 2023, and National French Fry Day (one wonders why they’re celebrating only a single fry when nobody eats just one?).

It’s also Beans ‘n’ Franks Day, Embrace Your Geekness Day, and, for some reason, National Beef Tallow Day.

Beanee Weanee (beans ‘n’ franks) available in a 12-pack on Amazon:

If you remember how canned beans figured in Hemingway’s story, “Big Two-Hearted River,” pat yourself on the back.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 13 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The NATO summit in Lithuania is now over, with firm support for Ukraine as a future member, but not pathway or timetable as to when that would happen.

Over the course of a two-day summit in Lithuania, the leaders of NATO’s 31 member nations projected unity in their support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s bloody invasion, promising new military support and making the strongest pledges yet that Kyiv would become a member — though they provided no clarity on when and how exactly it would happen.

The consensus on Ukraine’s eventual membership and the agreement forged on the eve of the NATO gathering to clear the way to make Sweden the alliance’s 32nd member were significant successes. But the summit also reflected the diplomatic challenges inherent within an alliance that spans the Atlantic Ocean and now borders a war zone.

The ambiguous diplomatic language in the summit’s final communiqué on Ukraine — an invitation will be extended “when allies agree and conditions are met,” leaving unsaid the conditions — did not disguise some serious strains among alliance members. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in his first public remarks since backing Sweden’s bid for admission to the alliance, tempered expectations that he would swiftly push the approval through the Turkish Parliament.

. . .President Biden concluded a meeting of the NATO allies on Wednesday in Vilnius with an address to Lithuanians, and to the world, comparing the battle to expel Russia from Ukrainian territory with the Cold War struggle for freedom in Europe, and promising “we will not waver” no matter how long the war continued.

His speech seemed to be preparing Americans and his NATO allies for a confrontation that could go on for years, putting it in the context of momentous conflicts of the past. And he cast it as a test of wills with the Russian leader, Vladimir V. Putin, who has shown no interest in giving up on an invasion that has not gone according to plan, but has locked him in a war of attrition.

Well, that’s depressing. A long, drawn-out war with NATO supplying an infinite supply of munitions. And how will it come out?  At least Zelensky got over his temporary tantrum about the nebulous timeline:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine stressed his gratitude for NATO’s military support, seeking to move past a dispute over when his country would be invited to join the alliance.

He’s a good man.

*From reader Ken:

Although the age at which a teenager in Mississippi can consent to engage in sexual intercourse with an adult is 16, the Mississippi legislature has seen fit to prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from accessing digital materials through school and public libraries without express parental consent (and not even with parental consent unless the libraries have certified that their digital collections contain no materials that fall into Mississippi’s overly restrictive definition of “obscenity”).

Well, it’s somewhat restrictive, and in some ways proper: it forbids, for instance the dissemination of child pornography, but it also won’t allow students access to “sexually oriented materials”, and here’s the definition:

[A]ny material is sexually oriented if the material contains representations or descriptions, actual or simulated, of masturbation, sodomy, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals or female breasts, sadomasochistic abuse (for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification), homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, sexual intercourse, or physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or the breast or breasts of a female for the purpose of sexual stimulation, gratification or perversion.”

The article at Book Riot adds this:

By definition, any vendor is out of compliance by simply having materials available in their system which depict sexual reproduction or queerness in any capacity. Images of nude female breasts–which are often part of sexual education, reproductive education, and/or biology and anatomy books written for those under the age of 18–would be out of compliance with the law.

But of course the kids don’t want to look at anatomy lessons; they want porn!

The problem, I gather is somehow restricting student access to these materials, which seems to be a technical problem for the e-platform (“the vendor”):

Platforms like Hoopla and Overdrive are not set up to create systems which change access based on age or varying laws by municipality. Library staff are also unable to preview and rate every item available within such platforms, leading to a position to shut down access all together.

It is, of course, one more step toward killing public goods like libraries and one more step toward creating systems wherein young people in some states are granted access to a world of knowledge and resources and young people in other states are shut out entirely.

My view is that if you’re old enough to have legal sex, you’re old enough to view porn. But in schools? I’m not sure what I think about that, since you’re supposed to be using the library for educational purposes. Readers are welcome to weigh in here?

*According to the Washington Post, the Biden administration is doing a tolerably good job with immigration at the border with Mexico, and things have quieted down considerably.

On the border bridge from Mexico, about 200 asylum seekers lined up on a recent morning with their phones open to a Customs and Border Protection mobile app, ready for appointments at a reception hall on the U.S. side.

Thirty miles north, the Biden administration provided a different reception for those attempting to enter the United States illegally, bringing them to a massive tent complex in the desert for migrants facing deportation. The new 360,000-square-foot facility’s shelves were stocked with diapers, snacks and baby formula, signs of the administration’s efforts to meet the changing demands of U.S. immigration enforcement.

The two locations illustrate the extent to which Biden administration officials have begun transforming the way asylum seekers and migrants are processed along the southern border since May 11, when the White House lifted the pandemic policy known as Title 42. The policy had allowed quick expulsions of migrants who entered the United States illegally but no penalty for those who tried to get in again and again.

Now the administration is allowing tens of thousands of migrants to enter the United States legally each month through the mobile app CBP One, while those who don’t follow the rules face ramped-up deportations and tougher penalties.

. . .The preliminary result is a nearly 70 percent drop in illegal entries since early May, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. After two years of record crossings and crisis-level strains, the Biden administration appears to have better control over the southern border than at any point since early 2021.

The president’s critics continue to depict his border policies as too permissive — geared more toward accommodating mass migration than deterrence. But the decline in illegal crossings undermines a key line of attack for President Biden’s Republican critics and bolsters Democrats’ argument that the pandemic expulsion policy was partly to blame for record numbers of border arrests.

So far, so good. The Republicans are still suing the administration over this policy, and, on the other side, immigrant advocacy groups are suing and administration to stop cracking down on immigrants who enter illegally. This looks like a “wait and see” situation to me, though things aren’t nearly as chaotic as they were a few months ago.

*Speaking of Biden, he’s confected a backdoor plan to get around the Supreme Court’s ruling that he can’t cancel student loan debt. But this plan apprently does just that for many people.

The Biden administration calls it a “student loan safety net.” Opponents call it a backdoor attempt to make college free. And it could be the next battleground in the legal fight over student loan relief.

Starting this summer, millions of Americans with student loans will be able to enroll in a new repayment plan that offers some of the most lenient terms ever. Interest won’t pile up as long as borrowers make regular payments. Millions of people will have monthly payments reduced to $0. And in as little as 10 years, any remaining debt will be canceled.

It’s known as the SAVE Plan, and although it was announced last year, it has mostly been overshadowed by President Joe Biden’s proposal for mass student loan cancellation. But now, after the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s forgiveness plan, the repayment option is taking center stage.

. . .The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated over the next decade the plan would cost $230 billion, which would be even higher now that the forgiveness plan has been struck down. Estimates from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania put the cost at up to $361 billion.

Emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision on cancellation, some opponents say it’s a matter of time before the repayment plan also faces a legal challenge.

Here are a few more details:

Right away, more people will be eligible for $0 payments. The new plan won’t require borrowers to make payments if they earn less than 225% of the federal poverty line — $32,800 a year for a single person. The cutoff for current plans, by contrast, is 150% of the poverty line, or $22,000 a year for a single person.

Another immediate change aims to prevent interest from snowballing.

As long as borrowers make their monthly payments, their overall balance won’t increase. Once they cover their adjusted monthly payment — even if it’s $0 — any remaining interest will be waived.

Other major changes will take effect in July 2024.

Most notably, payments on undergraduate loans will be capped at 5% of discretionary income, down from 10% now. Those with graduate and undergraduate loans will pay between 5% and 10%, depending on their original loan balance. For millions of Americans, monthly payments could be reduced by half.

The forgiveness of repayment to some people but not others who have dutifully paid off their loans has always struck me as palpably unfair, not to mention the huge burden this puts on the taxpayers, who will have to cover the billions of dollars in lost repayments.

*Fun article, though from the National Review. Ginger K. reports that a professor at the University of Iowa is worried that the school’s hawk mascot, Herky, is too scary-looking, and his appearance may be “contributing to a culture of violence, depression, and even “suicide.”   (h/t Ginger K.)

A professor at the University of Iowa is concerned that the school’s hawk mascot, Herky, looks angry — and its appearance could be contributing to a culture of violence, depression, and even “suicide.”

“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” clinical professor of pediatrics Resmiye Oral, wrote in an e-mail to the school’s athletic department, according to an article in Iowa City Press Citizen.

Oral continues to say that although she believes the school is “doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words,” she’s afraid that all of that is just not going to be enough if the school’s mascot has an angry face

It may sound like a joke to you, but Oral believes that the issue of the mascot’s appearance is not something to be taken lightly — not only because it could it be making some students feel uncomfortable, but also because it might be “conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence.”

Yes, that’s right — although you may think that the mascot bird’s face is just a mascot bird’s face, Oral is here to tell you that it may actually be a vehicle for subliminally instilling violent tendencies into the minds of those who see it.

You have to admit that it takes a Lefty to worry about stuff like this, even if the sarcasm comes from the right. If you want to see that Face That Will Traumatize An Entire University, heeeere’s Herky!!:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili tells a fib:

A: What are you sharpening your claws for?
Hili: Let’s say that’s for falling apples.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co ostrzysz pazurki?
Hili: Powiedzmy, że na spadające jabłka.

And a photo of the doting Szaron:


From reader Barry. I’m sure I’ve shown this before, but it’s too clever not to show again:

From The Cat House on the Kings:

From the MajorGeeks Facebook page:

Retweeted by Masih. The Iranian regime likes to arrest the family of activists just to intimidate them.

I found this one, but WHAAAAT?

From Barry, who says, “Awwww. . . . . Casper is a . . . . cutie?”

From Jez. I’m entirely on the side of the swan!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but a month in the camp before perishing. Look at that expression!

Tweets from the ever-brilliant Professor Cobb. The first one originated with Ziya Tong. What an experience this would be!

One of our beloved optical illusions and PROOF:

I hope you understand this one. If not, go here.

36 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Falling apples”…Hili being an optimist that Fall is on the way here in the heat of July!

  2. If you remember how canned beans figured in Hemingway’s story, “Big Two-Hearted River,” pat yourself on the back.

    It was “Big Two-Hearted River, Part I.” Nick Adams has canned beans mixed with spaghetti for dinner. In Part II, Nick eats flapjacks for breakfast the following morning and goes fishing.

    1. This was a part of a 1994 essay by Judith Moore about Hemingway and food. I liked the D.H. Lawrence comparison. I’d also add that EH was as obsessed with drink as with food.

      Irving Howe described the Hemingway hero as a man “who is defeated but finds a remnant of dignity in confrontation of defeat.” Howe might have added that the Hemingway hero, like Hemingway, was always hungry, that while this hero or his creator was locating that “remnant of dignity,” he was also longing for his next meal “He is to food what D.H. Lawrence is to sex,” another critic noted, about Hemingway. In “Big Two-Hearted River,” Part I, written early in his career, Hemingway dawdles lovingly over preparation of a campfire meal.

  3. Surely we should be more worried on this site about the fact that the bird mascot has teeth?

  4. On this day:
    1793 – Journalist and French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat is assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a member of the opposing political faction.

    1863 – New York City draft riots: In New York City, opponents of conscription begin three days of rioting which will be later regarded as the worst in United States history.

    1919 – The British airship R34 lands in Norfolk, England, completing the first airship return journey across the Atlantic in 182 hours of flight. [I’ll be in Norfolk having lunch with WEIT reader Dom when this post goes up.]

    1930 – The inaugural FIFA World Cup begins in Uruguay.

    1956 – The Dartmouth workshop is the first conference on artificial intelligence.

    1962 – In an unprecedented action, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dismisses seven members of his Cabinet, marking the effective end of the National Liberals as a distinct force within British politics.

    1973 – Watergate scandal: Alexander Butterfield reveals the existence of a secret Oval Office taping system to investigators for the Senate Watergate Committee.

    1977 – New York City: Amidst a period of financial and social turmoil experiences an electrical blackout lasting nearly 24 hours that leads to widespread fires and looting.

    1985 – The Live Aid benefit concert takes place in London and Philadelphia, as well as other venues such as Moscow and Sydney.

    2008 – Battle of Wanat begins when Taliban and al-Qaeda guerrillas attack US Army and Afghan National Army troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. deaths were, at that time, the most in a single battle since the beginning of operations in 2001.

    2016 – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron resigns, and is succeeded by Theresa May.

    1527 – John Dee, English-Welsh mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer (d. 1609).

    1793 – John Clare, English poet and author (d. 1864).

    1900 – George Lewis, American clarinet player and songwriter (d. 1969).

    1903 – Kenneth Clark, English historian and author (d. 1983).

    1918 – Marcia Brown, American author and illustrator (d. 2015).

    1925 – Suzanne Zimmerman, American competition swimmer and Olympic medalist (d. 2021).

    1940 – Patrick Stewart, English actor, director, and producer.

    1942 – Harrison Ford, American actor and producer.

    1942 – Roger McGuinn, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1944 – Ernő Rubik, Hungarian game designer, architect, and educator, invented the Rubik’s Cube.

    1946 – Cheech Marin, American actor and comedian.

    1957 – Cameron Crowe, American director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1960 – Ian Hislop, Welsh-English journalist and screenwriter.

    Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
    Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
    A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
    No waters breed or break.

    1893 – Young Man Afraid of His Horses, American tribal chief (b. 1836).

    1934 – Mary E. Byrd, American astronomer and academic (b. 1849).

    1951 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-American composer and painter (b. 1874).

    1954 – Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and educator (b. 1907).

    2005 – Robert E. Ogren, American zoologist (b. 1922).

    2006 – Red Buttons, American actor (b. 1919).

    2014 – Nadine Gordimer, South African novelist, short story writer, and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1923).j

    1. 1977 – New York City: Amidst a period of financial and social turmoil experiences an electrical blackout lasting nearly 24 hours that leads to widespread fires and looting.

      …and an upsurge in births nine months later, if I remember correctly.

    The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny. -Wole Soyinka, playwright, poet, Nobel laureate (b. 13 Jul 1934)

  6. Beef tallow day is tied to french fry day. For a long time, McDonald’s fries were considered to be -by a wide margin- the best of the big three fast food burger chains, and their edge was being fried in beef tallow. A couple decades or so ago, out of concern for its saturated fat content, the tallow was replaced by hydrogenated plant-based (trans) fats. This change of course we now know made them even less healthful. So BT day is probably a call to a return to tallow as a frying medium.

    1. Fully hydrogenated vegetable “oil” is solid at room temperature. It is then called shortening and has no unsaturated fatty acids, trans or otherwise. It is essentially equivalent to animal fat (tallow or lard) nutritionally; flavour-wise I don’t know, but classic McD fries were certainly really good. If long-chain liquid oils, which naturally contain cis-unsaturated fatty acids, are processed to make the cis-hydrogens at the unsaturated C=C bonds become trans-hydrogens without saturating the C=C double bond itself, the oil will have a higher melting temperature. This made it suitable for soft margarine marketed as “heart-smart”, having a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids which were thought then to be good for you but less prone to separating into liquid oil, which ruined the illusion that the product was butter.

      As you say, trans-unsaturated fats, which don’t occur in nature, are bad for you. They are just an industrial chemical whose toxicity took some time to become apparent (through science.). But fully hydrogenated shortening is no worse for you than any other saturated fat.

      1. “It is essentially equivalent to animal fat (tallow or lard) nutritionally; flavour-wise I don’t know, but classic McD fries were certainly really good.”

        It think it’s the relative ratios of the triglycerides (steric, palmitic and myristic acids) that make animal-fat-fried taters yummier than plant-fat-fried taters. Of course, it may rather be that the fats are not purely fat and there’s other goodies in it. Nevertheless, it’s also true with pie crusts; my gramma’s pie crusts made with lard were by far the best!

    2. A couple decades or so ago, out of concern for its saturated fat content, the tallow was replaced by hydrogenated plant-based (trans) fats.

      Waiting for someone to object to the mis-gendering of these (previously) innocent molecules.
      It shouldn’t be a long wait.

  7. I trimmed / rewrote this comment way down because hoo boy what a topic – I will try to be precise:

    I suggest checking these books out from the public library to know the modern landscape – and infer something about public school libraries, which are not as accessible. These have no photography – they are all “graphic novels” – which apparently means something :

    SFSX – this should be adult only, but I don’t know.

    Yes, Roya(“ADULT ONLY” printed on book)

    Gender Queer

    Drawn to Sex includes medical / reproductive guidance.

    And I might point out, if it isn’t obvious – Hustler, Penthouse, On Beyond Zebra! are probably inaccessible from the public library – if available in the first place.

    The question is whether material like that should be treated differently with regard to kids – or just let it be all-access. In other words, for adults there is no concern I can perceive.

    1. Surely the point is that in some aspects of the law these are most definitely not “kids”, while under other aspects of the law they are being treated as “kids”.
      Is there a principle in legal theory that “the law should not be self-contradictory”?
      The classical expression of this was that a soldier could be old enough to die for his country, but not old enough to have a beer to celebrate that the bullet missed. That is, I believe, still the federal law in the US – or is it a state-level insanity?

      1. Something is not insanity just because it doesn’t make sense to you. Sixteen-year-old drunken soldiers and sailors would be a mess. The 21-year-olds are bad enough. The young soldier who feels the bullet whizzing past his ear can celebrate in other ways, like thanking God and changing his underwear, which is probably what most of them do anyway. Besides, only a minority of enlisted military ever see combat, even during war. yet all would be thronging the taverns when on leave. Not to mention the young people not enlisted, who would drink for the same reason all young people do, for the thrill of saying, “Hey y’all! Watch this!!”

        Drinking as an excuse to “celebrate” is a red flag for problem drinking. Laws intended to impede alcohol consumption by young brains are reasonable. The state may well need citizens as soldiers who are too young to drink. There is no inherent insanity in that.

  8. Regarding the hypnotizing of chickens, back in the 80s there was a Chicago DJ named Larry Lujack, who on his show did a segment called “Animal Stories,” which involved strange or amusing stories about animals culled from the nation’s papers. For a while there was a short-subject shown in Chicago movie theaters (I think Plitt) featuring Lujack and his sidekick Tommy Edwards showing how you can hypnotize a chicken. (As I looked for the clip, I was reminded that it was a featurette reminding folks about not smoking, talking, etc. in the theater.) Here is the clip, the chicken sequence begins at about 1:10:

    1. And then there’s James Newell Osterberg Jr (Iggy Pop) channeling William S Burroughs;

      Hey man, where’d you get that lotion?
      I’ve been hurting since I bought the gimmick
      About something called love
      Yeah, something called love
      Well, that’s like hypnotizing chickens

    2. I hypnotized chicken last night – it didn’t move a bit as I ate it with broth, carrots, celery, and egg noodles…

      … hypnotized chicken noodle soup!

    3. Larry Lujack and Little Tommy! I hadn’t heard those names or “Animal Stories” in years. Strange the things that are in memory that might never be retrieved but by chance.

  9. Not sure how I feel about that Mississippi law, but just on the face of it the article at Book Riot appears to be misrepresenting what would be forbidden. The proposal states

    A]ny material is sexually oriented if the material contains representations or descriptions, actual or simulated, of …the breast or breasts of a female for the purpose of sexual stimulation, gratification or perversion.”

    That doesn’t mean

    Images of nude female breasts–which are often part of sexual education, reproductive education, and/or biology and anatomy books written for those under the age of 18–would be out of compliance with the law.

    Now maybe the writer is assuming (correctly or not) that the strategy here is similar to Creationists wanting an innocuous requirement that “evidence for and against scientific theories” be placed in school standards as a wedge for teaching YEC pseudoscience, but that’s not the claim. They’re saying the law specifically “by definition” forbids depicting anatomy for educational purposes. Not as far as I can tell it doesn’t.

  10. The key problem with the Mississippi law (and any like it) is definitions: how do you determine that something is being looked at for “sexual stimulation or gratification?” It’s an impossible construct to define or prove in law. One person might be looking at the bare breast for sexual stimulation, whilst another seeks detailed information on how to identify a tumor. Similarly, who is to say that looking at an example of hardcore porn isn’t educational for some people, whilst at the same time, the same content disgusts others?

    1. How about if I’d be comfortable “reading” it to a room full of kids from age 3 up – or your own family.

      That would go a long way helping define it – although if I was in “the Queer family” – in the old school code – the conclusion would be different.

      By the way it is illegal to knowingly distribute pornography to minors – under 16 years of age -under U. S. 18 sec. 1470 (I am not a lawyer I just read the Cornell website) so it is no idle speculation, precisely what pornography or obscenity is :

    2. Similarly, who is to say that looking at an example of hardcore porn isn’t educational for some people, whilst at the same time, the same content disgusts others?

      There is, I’m told, a niche of sexual activity which takes great pleasure in viewing images of actual medical treatments and operations (presumably taken for educational or training reasons). The difference doesn’t reside in the content, it’s in the use that is made of it.
      Coming soon from Mississippi (or some other deranged legislature) will be a regulation that all computer mice (touchpads, etc) sold, used, or imported into the state incorporate equipment to identify the purpose of a “click”, and communicate it to downstream programs.
      That’ll fix those goddamn pinko commie subversive preverts!

    3. I think you are misinterpreting the phrase, “for the purpose of sexual stimulation, gratification or perversion.” To me, in context, the phrase applies to the intent of the person who produced the images, not to the intent of the viewer. This intent could be gleaned from the context of how the images were presented and published and thus settled once and for all: an anatomy atlas or a sexual health text has a different intent from a porn mag. The library would not have to worry that some pimply kid is going to get the library in trouble because he looks at breasts in Gray’s Anatomy, which, of course, he will. I have fond memories of reading my mother’s Family Medical Guide which had a few short paragraphs in hundreds of pages of other health matters describing how to have satisfying marital relations in rather sketchy detail. No photos but the text was an engaging and serendipitous discovery.

      On the other hand, even if someone does want to view explicit pornography for educational purposes (although Heaven help his future partners!), the fact that it was not produced for that purpose requires the library not to carry it.

      The law is really not unreasonable given technical limitations. Adults in Canada can’t make pornography available to minors even if they are over the age–16– at which consent for sex can be relied on, nor can people make sexually explicit photos of people under 18, even of themselves. The problem, as Jerry says, is that the platform can’t tell the age of the viewers, and so a reasonable prohibition of allowing minors to view such material cannot be enforced except by banning the platform itself.

  11. I was wondering if the chickens are not hypnotized but pretending to be dead or going into a passive deathlike state because the people are holding them down by the neck.
    -just a thought.

  12. In reference to the Iowa mascot and concern about the culture of violence, I would like to know if that Iowa professor owns a gun.

  13. IMHO, Biden’s plan for taxpayers to payoff students’ college debt is one of his most divisive ideas.

    Think about it… college grads mostly voted for Biden, people without a college degree mostly voted for Trump. Only ~30% of Americans over the age of 24 have a college degree. So those non-college grads would have helped pay the loans of the college grads. (Yes, yes, college grads pay taxes too.)

    Meanwhile, the lifetime earnings of college grads is about $500k more than those without a college degree.

    Imagine you don’t have a college degree and your college-grad neighbor asks you to pay off her college loan. What is your first question? Where do I send the check? I doubt it.

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